Over the past year, we’ve all spent a lot more time at home than usual, so we probably have a better idea of what we like to do when we have more time on our hands. There’s always work to be done around the house, and this is especially so for the homeowner, whose to-do list never quite feels complete.
Whether you’re buying a new house or a new apartment, there’s no shortage of small projects you can knock out in a few hours. These do-it-yourself projects often get overlooked or buried beneath other priorities. Here are some to think about when you find yourself with some free time. And note that these DIY projects are quite simple and don’t require any heavy machinery or over-the-top multitools, so crack a bottle of wine or make yourself a cocktail before you get started.
Since we’ve all been contemplating the end times more than ever, you can use that momentum to do some minor prep for the next big earthquake, power outage, or other disaster. Know where your main power arteries are — gas lines, electrical panel, water main. Familiarize yourself with how they turn on and off and organize your notes into a neat folder. Make sure your electric panel is labeled correctly and the switches correspond to the proper corresponding rooms throughout your place. You don’t need a full-fledged fire escape map printed up, but it doesn’t hurt to imagine how you and your family would exit your place in the event of an emergency. Lastly, make sure everything on your emergency kit list is stocked up.
If caring for your house plants has always been on the bottom of your priority list, now’s the time to do it since a lot can be done with your indoor plants. You can trim leaves, prune branches, or re-pot the entire plant in fresh new soil. Paint your pots if you want to change the feel of the room, or upgrade them entirely as it might be time for the roots to have a little more breathing room. Hell, go green thumb and propagate some that you already have, enlarging your family of flora.
A new layout in a busy room can change the demeanor of an entire dwelling. There are plenty of online furniture brands that make it easy to envision the possibility of your room upgrade. Start small with new spots for chairs and couches, or reimagine entire kitchens and living rooms. Sometimes, something as subtle as a new space for glassware or a new drawer for utensils will bring unexpected satisfaction. It might be time to upgrade your bar cart and look at new pieces to bring in a more modern look with items such as such as whiskey decanters. You’ve no doubt gotten familiar with every square inch of your living space over the past year, so you’re likely aware of any acute problem areas where a fresh layout would be welcome.
There’s digital clutter that can be tidied up as well. Now’s the time to update apps on your smart TV and clean out unneeded contacts, photos, and videos on your phone. Your computer is almost certainly carrying some extra pounds. Delete old and unneeded emails and trash the programs and apps you never use. Conversely, back up what’s most important, like photos, videos, text documents, and graphic design projects. You may end up with a better-running device when you’re done. If nothing else, you’ll gain a little more mental clarity if e-junk weighs you down.
It’s decidedly less sexy, but you should probably clean and organize your closet. It’s what you would normally do every year, right? Well, bring back some of that monotonous normalcy by sifting through your wares, reorganizing what you want to keep, and donating the rest. Structure things so your warmer weather getup is more accessible now that the seasons have changed. For nicer garments that you never wear but don’t want to donate, consider selling them online (who couldn’t use a little extra cash right now?).
There are a handful of household nooks and crannies that tend to get overlooked when it comes to routine cleaning. Wipe down blinds and windows to allow in more summertime light. Clean light fixtures as well, which tend to collect a lot of dust. Throw on the rubber gloves and treat appliances like fridges and ovens to a deep clean. If it’s time to season a skillet, do it. And sterilize anything and everything that gets a lot of hand contact. Think doorknobs, cabinet handles, remote controls, light switches, keys, and your electronic devices.
Now’s a fine time to make sure everything you already have is in good working order. Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide sensors. If you have wood furnishings, it might be time for a stain. If you have sensitive flooring, it might be time for new furniture pads. Rotate your mattress to balance outwear. You can sharpen blades, take some WD-40 to squeaky hinges, patch holes in walls, swap out your filters, or adjust your water pressure.
Touch-up painting is an easy way to freshen walls, floorboards, picture frames, window sills, and more. Even if there are no noticeable dings, certain areas can always use a fresh coat now and again — kitchen walls that may see a lot of splatters, areas that get a lot of sunlight, etc. You can use smaller brushes or even a cotton swab for the smallest spots, like chips in wood or nail holes. If you stretch out the little paint jobs over the course of several days, preserve brushes by simply wrapping them (an old bread bag does the job) in between uses.
If you have pieces of furniture that are looking really old or are just sitting there unused, then you might want to give them an upgrade. This will not only help lessen the clutter in your space but will also save you some cash on new furniture purchases. Simple upgrades such as painting, playing with patterns, adding little decorative details, and swapping out handles can give your home a style refresh without major renovations. If you want to completely repurpose your furniture, you can also choose to do full makeovers or rebuilding, like combining two dining chairs to form a bench, transforming a stool into a storage compartment, and converting a bookshelf into a bench.
Really, you should. It’s satisfying. There are a lot of useful things you can craft with just the bits and ends lying around your house (no trip to the hardware store required). A birdhouse is easy and can be put together in well under an hour, but they’re fun to trick out through added rooms or custom paint jobs. Other relatively simple things to build include spice racks, wine bottle holders, mailboxes (make sure they adhere to federal standards), firewood compartments, picture frames, planters, and raised garden beds.
Stretch out the process, if you have the time, by going into kid mode and drawing up some blueprints beforehand of whatever it is you’re making. It’s a fun way to visualize things and envision little accents or improvements.
But, if you’re looking for a more intensive house project, make sure to check out our home renovation guide.
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